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Constitutional Law

Fed’l Judge in Calif. Strikes Prop 8 Same-Sex Marriage Ban; Appeal Expected

Posted Aug 4, 2010 4:03 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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In a much-awaited ruling today, a federal judge in San Francisco held that the state's same-sex marriage ban violates the United States Constitution.

A copy of the opinion (PDF), in which Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker rules that the voter-enacted ban violates both the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment, is provided by the Wall Street Journal Law Blog.

A final decision on the case, however, appears almost certain to be made by the United States Supreme Court, notes the New York Times.

"The evidence shows that, by every available metric, opposite-sex couples are not better than their same-sex counterparts; instead, as partners, parents and citizens, opposite-sex couples and same-sex couples are equal," writes Walker at one point in the 138-page decision. "Proposition 8 violates the Equal Protection Clause because it does not treat them equally."

At another point, Walker says that the law is not rationally related to one of its major purported objectives:

"Even if California had an interest in preferring opposite-sex parents to same-sex parents—and the evidence plainly shows that California does not—Proposition 8 is not rationally related to that interest, because Proposition 8 does not affect who can or should become a parent under California law," he writes. Prop 8, he says, unconstitutionally prohibits same-sex marriage rather than same-sex parents.

Even before the expected decision today, both sides were already focusing on a potential stay of the decision.

The defense team in the Proposition 8 case made a filing last night seeking a stay from Walker, reports the San Jose Mercury News.

And, in a letter (PDF) to the judge provided by SCOTUSblog, counsel for the plaintiffs said they intend to respond to the "obviously premature" defense motion "if a response is a warranted, as soon as practicable after the court issues its order."

The letter also requests an opportunity to be heard before any stay may issue.

Additional coverage:

ABA Journal (2009): "Marriage Proposal"

Fox 40 News: "Federal Judge Rules Proposition 8 Violates US Constitution"

Los Angeles Times: "Judge strikes down Prop. 8, allows gay marriage in California"

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